CAA, NRC will not hurt Indian Muslims: Bhagwat in Assam
Guwahati: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat on Wednesday said the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) will not harm Indian Muslims and that a communal narrative was being peddled by some to gain political mileage.
At an event in Guwahati, Bhagwat also said that there were organised attempts to increase the Muslim population since 1930 in Punjab, Sindh, Bengal, Assam to establish dominance and turn the country into Pakistan. He said this “plan” was somewhat successful with Partition, but failed to get Assam and other provinces in full.
“After Independence, the first prime minister of the country said that minorities will be taken care of, and that has been done so far. We will continue to do so. No Muslim will face any loss due to CAA,” Bhagwat said at the launch of Gauhati University professor Nani Gopal Mahanta’s book on NRC and CAA.
Bhagwat insisted the CAA and NRC are not against any Indian citizen. “The (1950) Nehru-Liaquat Pact clearly stated that each country would protect its minorities. India has been following it, Pakistan failed to do so.”
The RSS chief said Indians always welcomed outsiders but designs by some to “impose their language, religion and food habits” had led to fears.
“Since 1930, there have been organised attempts at increasing Muslim population in a planned manner. The design was to increase population in order to exercise their dominance and slowly turn this nation into Pakistan,” said Bhagwat.
“This was true for Punjab, Sindh, Assam and Bengal. The plan worked to an extent as India got partitioned and Pakistan got created. But it didn’t happen entirely as planned and Assam didn’t go to Pakistan, though part of Bengal and Punjab got divided,” he added.
Bhagwat said this led to creation of two types of refugees--those who were persecuted in Pakistan and fled to India, and others who came with the idea of increasing their population in India.
The RSS leader, who is on his first visit to Assam after the Bharatiya Janata Party returned to power in the state in May, said the citizenship law is meant to provide protection to persecuted minorities from neighbouring countries seeking asylum in India.
“We reach out to the majority communities, too, in these countries during a calamity.... So if there are some who wish to come to our country due to threats and fear, we will definitely have to help them out,” Bhagwat said.
“The matter is in the political domain as the government is involved in it... A section of people wants to get political mileage by creating a communal narrative around these two issues… some people will turn both CAA and NRC into something between Hindus and Muslims while that is not the case,” he said.
The contentious CAA, which was passed in Parliament in 2019, fast-tracks Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis who entered India on or before December 31, 2014, from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The absence of Muslims in the list led to fears of exclusionary treatment; in Assam, where the traditional issue has been the influx of outsiders, there were concerns that the law could legitimise the claims of those from outside the state.
“The provisions of CAA are meant for those who were persecuted in those countries and came to India for refuge. It is not for those who came to India without facing any persecution,” Bhagwat said.
Protesters in Assam alleged the legislation violated the 1985 Assam Accord that provided for the deportation of all refugees and migrants, who entered Assam after March 25, 1971.
Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who was also present at the event, emphasised that the reasons behind the protests against the CAA in other parts of the country were completely different from the ones in Assam.
“While the former sought inclusion of Muslims on the list of communities mentioned in the legislation (CAA), the protests in Assam were against the legislation itself,” Sarma said.
Sarma said the government has a duty towards the persecuted people. “That is why I am a supporter of CAA and will remain one. But at the same time, we need to take measures to protect our Assamese identity and culture. I am sure the Assamese people will find a way out where we will balance everything and contribute to nation-building,” he said.
Separately, in 2019, Assam, at the instruction and under the supervision of the Supreme Court compiled a registry of citizens, also a key charter of the Assam Accord. The result was a roster that excluded around 1.9 million of the nearly 33 million applicants from the NRC. The list was dubbed faulty by most people, citing exclusion of genuine citizens and inclusion of persons with doubtful identity.
Talking about NRC, Bhagwat said that all nations have the right to know who its citizens are.“It is the duty of all governments to keep a tab on people (who stay in a country illegally). NRC is just one way of finding that out,” he said.
“We are aware of the text of NRC and CAA and also know that their provisions won’t hurt genuine Indian Muslims. But the problem is in their implementation. Despite the final NRC draft published in August 2019, it is yet to be notified and the process of appeals hasn’t begun. Instead, the Assam NRC coordinator is saying that 100% reverification of the process that took six years and nearly ₹1,600 crore needs to be done. Instead of telling others not to communalise the issue and seek political mileage, I would tell Bhagwat and Sarma that they are the ones who are doing it for political gains,” Md Aminul Islam, MLA and organising secretary of All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), said.